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Four Gone. Conclusion.

Posted by Dirck on 29 July, 2013

Well, I’m glad to say that the action described hereafter only tangentially involved fountain pens.  With a nod to the good folks at Sesame Street, today’s episode is brought to you by the Number 4 and the Letter P… but they’ll have to wait for the narrative to bring them along.

This weekend saw me getting at some long… “-delayed,” I guess is better than “-dodged”, household maintenance tasks.  The most daunting, and one what had been put of for logistical reasons, was creeping up onto the roof of the house and clearing out the eaves-troughs.  I hasten to point out that I’m not struck by acrophobia, or at least not from the altitude offered by a single-level detached dwelling with a tall basement, so my extemporizing on this chore was not a bowing to weakness.  The logistical element was a simple want of a ladder, something which I tried to remedy last fall but didn’t quite manage before Nature declared the end to the season for that sort of thing.  The ladder being finished, I could look towards clambering, and this weekend saw Nature holding back on the standard summer weekend deluge, so up I went.

In point of fact, I went up three times.  Not four, but three.  The troughs were quite clogged, and as one will when faced with a job in an inconvenient location I kept finding a need for something left behind on a previous journey.  The final ascent had been prompted by a realization that there was enough muck and foliage in the gutters that I couldn’t heave it onto the publicly viewable space between our house and the northern neighbour, and a bucket or two and the rope to lower them from the roof were needed.  The final ascent was… slightly abortive.

P is for Plummet.

I may have voided the warranty on these.

I may have voided the warranty on these.

The thing I should have taken a picture of was the post-collapse ladder.  It came apart just as my head was level with the soffit, which put my feet slightly ahead of my own usual head height.  As luck would have it, I fell away from the wreckage of the ladder, and so didn’t have the bother of getting any limbs broken.  As the picture suggests, I avoided any serious injury by taking the majority of the fall with my head, something so thick with bone as to be impervious to damage, and which I seldom use in any event.

Now, on the collapsing ladder; shall we count the number of failed items of hardware? 1, 2, 3, 4!

If the ladder had come apart from stupidity, I (probably) wouldn’t put this much energy into the story, but apart from a slight miscalculation on the capacity of some of that hardware, I don’t feel like I wrote my own doom in Comic Sans with the occasional letter reverse or inverted.  I think that it would be reasonable not to expect 3½” screws to tear out of the wood they’re in, nor for the shackle of a padlock mounting to shear off of the base plate.  When I speak of four failed items of hardware, I don’t meant individual components, but entire fittings.  I’m not only heavier than I look, I’m heavier than I feel myself to be.

There are, as I indicated, a couple of points at which fountain pens touch in this account.  The Lamy Vista I was carrying in my shirt pocket emerged entirely unscathed (yes, I did anticipate the possibility of needing to write something down while on a roof and shoveling decayed vegetation), a testament to the toughness of that line.  Also, the most serious injury I sustained was neither crainial nor facial, but the spraining of both wrists– I suspect this came from the rapidly changing and increasingly bad angle of my grip on the rungs in the first half of the plummet.  While my fingers remain nimble, and writing thus and with pens is perfectly possible (the latter thanks a training in use of the shoulder in the act; let’s hear it for proper technique!), rotation and application of pressure is right out, so for the next week or so, I’m not going to be trying any repairs.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer 3-25SC
Today’s ink: Herbin Vert Empire

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8 Responses to “Four Gone. Conclusion.”

  1. AndrewMB said

    A few years ago I fell off a ladder at work. I was pruning a Chinese elm with a chain saw. Unlike the elm I still have all my limbs. The silly part of it was I tried to keep the chain saw from getting wrecked (which I did) by holding onto it! Oh the things we think of in a panic. A home video of the affair would be an excellent example of what not to do in the case of cutting off a limb of a elm. The axillary limb fell onto my shoulder, and from there it got just the right leverage to topple the ladder with me on it. In all happened in a weird slow motion, and I remember saying to myself “What an idiot!” I didn’t lose any body parts, and I think I put the project on hold for the day.

    Hope the wrists mend speedily. Take care.

  2. Next time, call us. We have a nice aluminium ladder of the non-disintegrating variety. They cost more, but they are worth the investment. Never go for the water soluble ones. Waste of time.

    • Years of listening to the Goon Show and its extolling the virtues of building things from brown paper and mum’s old drawers has led me sadly astray.

      Also, I never found an ladder combining length, load rating above 140kg, and cost sufficiently below that of hiring a team of roofers to entirely replace eaves and shingles, all three of which were important criteria. And, it seems, the current North American background count of “you gotta fend for yourself” vibes” made the very notion of asking around after friends’ resources invisible to me. “What an idiot!” once again.

  3. Flounder said

    Yikes. I’m glad you’re mostly okay, it must have been an awful shock when the ladder gave way. I never see wooden ladders here in Scotland, they probably wouldn’t last a season. The aluminium ones are surprisingly light, even the 3 part ones, and strong.

    I’ve sprained a wrist dropping a motorbike on a roundabout once, it took an age to get better, considering that I wasn’t going that fast. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    • From what I’ve seen of UK traffic, I’m surprised a more general flattening didn’t accompany the sprain.

      I suppose in the wake of this general “metal ladder = good” hubbub, I should assume that there’s a bit of space between the allowable weight and the guaranteed failure weight and find one that’s close enough. Looking at roofing crews as I drive about, though, the seem to incline towards a certain gracility….

  4. […] to not ramble about flaky crap as I did yesterday.  A side effect of the healing process in my mostly-recovered arms has been broken sleep, since when one is lying quietly in bed there’s fewer sensations to […]

  5. […] past weekend, I returned to the roof of my previous dismay, through the borrowing of a ladder and a fixed avoidance of reading its load rating until the job […]

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